The Demitra Dilemma

After suffering a shoulder injury last May, there has been much speculation as to if or when, Pavol Demitra will finally make his return to the Canucks roster. Well, the good news for Vancouver and their loyal fans, is that his return could be much sooner than expected. This week the veteran Slovak, has been regularly practicing with the team. He could possibly play in Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, although a return to the line up around January 20th could be more likely. It’s expected, when he does leave IR, that he will skate on the 3rd line.

When you look at the three time All Stars career, it’s difficult to ignore facts like he has had fourteen seasons where he scored twenty or more goals, three seasons when he had well over thirty goals and in the 98-99 season he had a total of thirty-seven goals. He has been very successful at his job when you look at .

Unfortunately Demirta also possesses some rather unattractive stats that some people might be unaware of. It was during the 93 –94 season when Demitra began his NHL career as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Since then he has played in eight hundred and nineteen games. During his tenure as an NHL player he has only completed a full eighty-two game season twice. To date he has missed approximately one hundred and seventy games since the 93 –94 campaign, due to injuries with varying degrees of severity. He has suffered an amzing 46 seperate injuries ranging from hamstring, concussions and he has even spent time in the sickbay with a bout of chicken pox. At 35 he is hardly a young man and some might think at that age he is nearing the end of his career.

After suffering two recent defeats, an injection of offensive talent might be just the ticket for the Vancouver Canucks, especially to a somewhat underachieving third line. At this point in the season most teams would love the opportunity to add a talented forward to the roster. This begs the million dollar question: is Pavol Demitra that player and do Vancouver really need to rearrange their line up to accommodate an ageing, injury prone, 35 year old man?

Prior to these recent losses, Vancouver was playing better than they had all season. Even during times when the Canucks have struggled, how many of us would have named Demitra as the cure? Of course the third and fourth lines need to contribute more on a nightly basis, but adding Demitra could possibly quell any chemistry that the current third line has. Not forgetting that placing Demitra on the third, or any other line, means that certain players could be demoted or made a healthy scratch.

When you also consider that Ryan Johnson is close to returning, there will need to be even more bodies juggled to help reduce the veritable logjam. A player like Hansen could be the odd man out, he is a young forward trying to become a regular member of the Canucks organization and at his age being a constant victim of line juggling could seriously dent his confidence.

There is no guarantee that Demitra will be able to add another element to a team that is already excelling offensively. His last competitive appearance in a Canucks uniform was wack back during the playoffs in May 2009; that’s approximately nine months away from the game. We all know how hard it is to force yourself back to the gym after a two-week break, imagine how Demitra will be after months of absence? In the 69 games played last season Demitra proved to be a beneficial member of his team, mostly playing on the second line. He could perhaps be a vital piece of the puzzle again? If he is able to display some of the offensive skill that he has in the past, teams like the Rangers could show more interest in his services. With a successful Olympics, other teams maybe willing to take a chance on him around the trade deadline?

Demitra’s return is not a negative for Vancouver and as discussed, it potentially does have many positives, but perhaps his return is at a time when Vancouver does not need his presence as greatly as they have in the past. Demitra is currently in the final year of his contract, which still owes him four million dollars. After which point he will become a UFA on July 1st so if his arrival is less than fruitful he may be on the trading block.